tv Countdown With Keith Olbermann MSNBC November 5, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
getting hit again? that we got protection from terrorism by fighting a war that killed tens of thousands of people, that we stopped the use of terrorist weapons en though we didn't find them? does he really live in this world or this house of mirrors of what he intends to be the truth is the truth? that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. ""countdown" with keith olbermann starts right now. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? tax wars. conflicting signals from the white house on whether the president is willing to compromise on extending tax cuts for the rich. is this the opening republicans have been looking for? did the public really ask for it? since there's no evidence that on tuesday americans were voting in favor of tax cuts for wealthiest 2% of americans. the split between the top two republicans? >> some have said it was
indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny president obama a second term. >> but what minority leader mcconnell actually said was this -- the single most important thing we want to achieve is for president obama to be a one-term president. and the man expected to be the next speaker of the house trying to get some distance from all of it. >> that's senator mcconnell's statement and his opinion. >> is it mere political posturing? the house is still her calling. nancy pelosi announces he's run for house minority leader and with some centrist democrats asking that she step aside, is there enough intraparty support for her to remain in a position of leadership? our guest, eugene robinson. midterm election 2010. not over in alaska yet. republican and tea party nominee joe miller speaks. >> her little victory speech she gave several days ago may be premature. and peanut in space.
seriously, folks, the deep impact probe and stunning images of a peanut shaped comet which is more intriguing because it is active. the explanation. all the news and commentary now on "countdown." good evening from new york. this is friday november 5th, 732 days until the 2012 presidential elections. i'm thomas roberts filling for keith olbermann. as many of you are aware keith is in the news today. we'll have more on that later in this hour. it's been three days since the midterm elections. in the first battle looming for the lame duck congress democrats are showing signs of backs down. our fifth story tonight, after their shellacking at the polls, will democrats give tax cuts to the richest people in america? robert gibbs said after the elections president obama was open to discussing a temporary
extension of tax cuts on income above $200,000 for individuals and a quart of a million for families. president obama, himself, is standing firm only against permanent extension of those cuts. and politico, today, reports democrats in congress are considering another possible concession to republican leaders john boehner in the house and senate republican leader mitch mcconnell, raising the threshold for the permanent tax cuts. quoting unnamed democratic aides politico reports the quarter million mark is, quote, dead as the dividing line. i stead democrats would start negotiations for the permanent cuts and either half a million or an even million. mr. boehner today said new job numbers show the need for tax cuts. the labor department reported more than 150,000 private sector jobs created last month. mr. boehner argued that keeping tax rates where they have been for the last nine years will change the rate of job growth. quote, any job growth is a positive sign, but stagnant and stubbornly high unemployment
makes clear why permanently stopping all the looming tax hikes should top washington's to do list this month. extending all the tax cuts will add $3 trillion to the deficit. will add $700 billion. republicans say that $700 billion is worth it because it will create job, trickle down economics. voters, however, said it exist polls they would rather use that money on spending to create jobs. 39% said their highest priority for the new congress is cutting the deficit. which would actually be increased by both job spending, which was favored by 37%. and by cutting taxes which only 19% of voters and only 29% of republican voters called their highest priority. the priorities of republican leadership. politico reports the obama tax cuts are also expiring at the end of this year with as much impact on the middle class as the bush tax cuts have for the top 2%.
nevertheless, republicans viewed those tax cuts, quote, as an obama initiative and have no interest in extending it. let's bring in david k. johnston, pulitzer prize winning tax reporter author of "free lunch: how the wealthiest americans enrich themselves at government expense and stick you with the bill." he's a columnist for "tax notes." let's get right to it. start with the basics. these tax cuts did not prevent high unemployment. how would continuing then e ini reduce it? >> they won't. they won't create a single job. jobs are creating when companies have business. they have people buying their products and services, and if the president falls for this and lets the republicans set the agenda and set the george bush temporary tax cuts as the base, two years from now he'll be running and they'll be saying, look at the enormous deficits that have been caused by the president's policies. >> so explain how higher tax rates might make rich people hire more workers. break that down for us. >> well, it's a little
counterintuitive, thomas, but if you own a business and the cost of withdrawing money from that business to, say, buy a painting is 15% and the painting is -- if the tax rate is 50% for the $85 million painting you're going to withdraw $170 million. the lower we make the tax rate the more we increase the likelihood that owners will withdraw money from their businesses which means destroying jobs. and put it into unproduct if assets like art, jewelry, mansion, another yacht, things like that. >> the republican argument is the people making over a quartzer million a year are the small business owners out there around the country. you helped the show "countdown" refute that notion, though. explain. >> it's exactly right. it is a very narrow segment of businesses. there are about 15,000 small businesses with an average
revenue of $150 million each. whose owners will benefit from this. and about 20,000 partnerships with almost the same average revenue. this is about the $31 billion a year engineering company and a variety of other multibillion dollar businesses getting enormous tax cuts. it is not about the mom and pop businesses we think of or the little manufacturers as small business. >> how are people being sold this bill of goods, then? >> well, it's very easy to say, make an argument that says tax is bad. that's exactly how the republicans have successfully framed this. and the president frankly is utterly failing at his duty to be a leader. to be out there educating people and saying, we need it be having a serious debate here about how do we shape our tax system to raise the money we have for our government? and how do we spend that money? because we're spending an enormous amount of it, thomas, in incredibly unproductive ways. almost half the world's
expenditures for health care. the u.s. government. half the world's military expenditures. that's totally economically unproductive. the u.s. government. huge, massive subsidies to pret politicrats, tricked people who thought were going to get spending and lo and behold proposing deficits through continued tax cuts through the rich. >> which will be more effective for the economy? extending the obama tax cut, the bush tax cuts or something else entirely we haven't thought of yet? >> i think something else entirely. we have massive deficits in our country we need to address. we need to be repairing our infrastructure before dams collapse and people die, fix our roads so we can move goods for efficiently. we are rapidly falling behind the rest of the world in the quality of the education we're providing and especially the number of advanced degrees in science and engineering.
we need to put money into scientific research so the best minds in america don't leave as they are and go to china where the fruits of their intellectual property is going to benefit another country, not us. that's the debate the president should have and he should be taking us to the republicans and saying to them, we're about the future. we're going to lead this nation to a prosperous future, your plans are about more debt and protecting the already wealthy so that they can continue to use their money in unproductive ways. that's the debate we ought to be having. >> the dems framing a new narrative. david k. johnston of tax notes a. we turn to the director of the washington office of demos, nonport dan public policy group. good to have you with us. democrats reportedly want to expend the middle class cuts permanently and tax cuts for the rich temporarily. at some points republicans will have to fight for the rich. it might be good politics. what does it do to the deficit?
what does it do to the economy? >> i think it's a really strong move obviously for president obama and the democrats to continue to push for the middle class tax cuts that were really their signature achievement in tax policy since president obama became president. not that many people know this. actually president obama gave the middle class the single largest tax cut in american history during the recovery act. while families pr living paycheck to paycheck and so many people in this country are worrying about the roof over their head the last thing we need to do is raise taxes on the middle class. but when we ask the question, what is this policy for? the answer on the highest income tax cuts is really resounding silence because we need it be pushing the republicans. the republicans need to justify wealthy tax cuts to the wealthiest americans at a time of massive unemployment.
>> people don't realize, because most americans are unemployed. we have this skyrocket unemployment rate of 9.6%. 15 million americans that are out of work. as you pointed out from the recovery act, americans don't even know that obama lowered their taxes last year. no matter how much he lowers the taxes now or for whom. they hammer him for increasing the deficit to do so. it's a catch 22. >> yeah. i think that the president has an opportunity right now to really shape the agenda. it seemed that the republicans, if you try to follow the republicans' logic it will get you exactly nowhere. what the president needs to here is say, listen. we have an enormous economic problem in this country and explain to the american people that, in fact, the least powerful tool in the government's arsenal to stimulate the economy, put more americans back to work, is the republicans' number one domestic priority which is, other than making him a one-term president, tax cuts for millionaires and
billionaires. it is simply the least powerful tool in the government's arsenal. >> heather, let's go over some of this. the republicans said they're willing to borrow $700 billion to lower taxes above a quarter million because it will create jobs. once you're willing to borrow $700 billion aren't there more effective ways to use it to create jobs? >> absolutely. we know, in fact, tax cuts cost the u.s. more than they create in economic activity. we're going to be issuing a report in a few weeks that talks about what it would cost to directly put the american people out of a job through no fault of their own back to work. you can get 12 million people back to work in this country for the $700 billion a year that the bush tax cuts for the wealthiest americans would cost. i mean, if you frame it that way, i don't see how that's not a winning solution for the president and democrats. >> is that what you think the president and congressional democrats should do? that's the headline? >> absolutely. i think it is a moral -- i think
it's a moral concern for the president. and i think it's a political concern for the president that he basically dare the opposition to say no to putting americans back to work. >> heather mcgee, many thanks to you. good to you with us tonight. >> thank you. it might be a strategy, it might even be the strategy. the man who will likely be the next speaker of the house won't say so. mitch mcconnell's admission that the top priority of republicans is to deny president obama a second term, next. "well, let's grow some algae." and that's what started it. exxonmobil and synthetic genomics have built a new facility to identify the most productive strains of algae. algae are amazing little critters. they secrete oil, which we could turn into biofuels. they also absorb co2. we're hoping to supplement the fuels that we use in our vehicles, and to do this at a large enough scale to someday help meet the world's energy demands.
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division already between the senate minority leader and fellow republican in that other chamber. john boehner, the subject getting things done versus making president obama a one-term president. house speaker nancy pelosi makes it official. she wants to be the minority leader in the new congress. does a party's loss guarantee the vision on who that leader should be? alaska, it's not over yet. joe miller wants to make sure
everybody knows it. and in news from space it's a comet, it's a big one, and it's really, really active. we'll tell you about it. ♪ [ male announcer ] when you have plaque psoriasis, you see patches on your skin's surface. but let's look at the condition's inner workings. psoriasis involves an overactive immune system. this leads to an overproduction of skin cells that rise to the surface, build up, and cause plaques. this understanding has led to treatments that help manage plaque psoriasis closer to where it starts. learn more at insidepsoriasis.com.
and talk to your doctor about psoriasis. ♪ two weeks ago senate minority leader mitch mcconnell said in the next legislative session it was his intention to finish the job that the american people sent him there to do. as to define the job mcconnell answered the single most important thing we want to achieve is for president obama to be a one-term president. in our fourth story, now two leading republicans are attempting to distance themselves from those remarks. one is presumptive house speak
ur john boehner, the other mitch mcconnell. leader boehner telling abc news last night the president appears to be in denial over the results of tuesday's elections though he welcomes a chance to sit down with the president in the future. >> a slurpee summit in the future? >> i don't know about a slurpee. how about a glass of merlot? >> why not dump some slurpee with a merlot? anyway, we move on. sawyer went on to ask boehner about his republican colleagues' single most important goal. >> what about your counterpart as we know, he issued a statement, "the most important thing we have to achieve is for barack obama to be a one-term president." do you agree? is that the most important thing you have -- >> that's senator mcconnell's statement and his opinion. i think the american people want us to focus on their message during the election. stop the spending. >> after his heritage foundation speech yesterday leader
mcconnell sat down with the "wall street journal" and talked about his discussion with the president and tried to restate his goals for the next two years. >> the extent he wants to focus on spending and debt and private sector job growth, i think we'll be willing partners. he's called me twice in the last 24 hours which is kind of an unusual experience, not having had a whole lot of expressions of interest from him in the first two years. to assume that just because i would have liked to elect a republican president in 2012 or because he would like to have a second term beginning in 2012, we aren't going it do anything together between now and then is not correct. >> joining me now is ryan grim, senior congressional correspondent for the "huffington post." good to have you with us. is this going to work out? was mcconnell's comment so combat if that boehner couldn't endorse it? >> i think it's more along those lines. mo mcconnell is a combative
partisan. when he's asked what his top political goal is he's going to say it's taking the white house. that thatnaturally what the political goal is of any opposition party. if you net when boehner answered the questions what's your top political goal? he shifted over and said his top policy goal is to cut spending. of course boehner's top political goal is to keep the house and take the white house. that's, of course, what they want to do, but mcconnell going out there and maybe not realizing what that -- how that would be read kind of puts boehner in a position of looking weak in his caucus right now. it is creating a little bit of attention on the hill. >> mcconnell was asked at cnn if he would shut down government if that's the only way to deny funding of the health care bill. he answered, no, we're knoll not talking about shutting down the governmen
governme government. >> it's not exactly up to him. it's more up to boehner because appropriations bills begin in the house of representatives. a way a government shutdown would come is either the house passes appropriation bills that obama simply cannot sign because they -- either they repeal health care, they repeal wall street reform, whatever. so obama vetoes them and there's no money for the federal government. or the house simply refuses to pass appropriations bills. those are the two ways the government would be shut down. it's less likely that happens in the senate because the democrats still do control the senate and you can probably pick off a couple republican votes to keep the government going. that's more hilikely than a cos scenar scenario. >> steve king of iowa told the conservative website news max today he thinks he has the votes in the house to pass a bill that would end birthright citizenship for u.s.-born children of illegal immigrants. what does mcconnell do when
bills like that are going to show up on his senate doorstep? >> this, again, puts mcconnell in a decent position where he can allow his congress to take whatever kind of positions they want because he doesn't run the senate. it's going to be more up to boehner. the house republicans are going to be mostly just a messaging board where they just throw up, you know, right wing ideas and they don't have to suffer the practical consequences of them actually becoming law. when they come over to the senate it's up to harry reid whether or not they go to the floor. mcconnell could ask, hey, give us an amendment on this and let some of his tea party members vote yes on that, but it won't pass. in the next two years you're not going to see a stripping of the 14th amendment, but you know, if republicans take the senate and take the white house, you know, anything's possible. >> you know, what we're seeing now, senator mcconnell tapping senator elect marco rubio to
give the address after the election. are we going to see more overtures like that to win the favor of tea party linked senators? >> you might. you're going to see an awful lot of marco rubio. think of marco rubio as the new bobby jindal. bobby jindal was the great hope of republicans, that he would be able to win the republican base but then pick up enough of the minority vote that they have enough of a coalition to take the white house. he flamed out, as you probably remember in kind of a ludicrous way. ever since then the search has been on and marco rubio kind of fills those shoes. it helps him enormously that he's from florida and so the thinking that, you know, if you can win florida you can win the white house. he's already being talked about as a future presidential candidate and in the very short term he's being talked about on the short list as a vice presidential candidate in 2012. >> everybody knows and history shows obama was a shooting star as a senator for the democrats. and the republicans i think,
maybe i'm wrong, do they see rubio as that shooting star? >> they do. and they've been looking at rubio in that way for a couple years now. and that's why democrats were so worried when he ran for senate and why there was this kind of intense behind the scenes effort over the last year to get kendrick meek to drop off the ballot. so that crist could beat him. they wanted to cut rubio off before he got to that national level. they failed. there he is now. this is thing that they're going to have to be dealing with perhaps for decade. >> all right. there have been a lot of things talked about. republicans in the white house just can't agree on. in a lame duck session. so what are we going to see over the next few months? >> the biggest fight is going to be over tax cuts for the wealthy. i interviewed nancy pelosi last night and she told me her number one priority is to pass middle class tax cuts that apply to the first $250,000 of income. even the rich would get a little bit of a tax cut, but above
$250,000 the tax cut wouldn't apply. she's going to try to pass that. harry reid doesn't have the votes for that in the senate so there's going it be a standoff. either they're all going to expire or pass the middle class tax cuts which probably suspect going to get through the senate. or the democrats in the house are going to have to buckle and pass an extension of a year or two years and give the tax cuts to simply everybody. >> all right, ryan, you mentioned nancy pelosi. interviewing her last night, did she give any indication she was going to tweet today she was going to go after minority leader in. >> she did. she said that night she was going to go home and call members. she said, it's going it be late but i'm going to start calling people on the west coast and feel them out and see where they are. the next morning she's in. apparently she got a good reaction when she started hitting the phones. >> i was going to say, had to go home and draft her tweet. it's 140 characters? >> you can get that together quickly. >> you can. i can do one in the commercial break. ryan grim of the "huffington
post." the conflict over whether speaker nancy pelosi will continue to lead her fellow democrats as the house leader. challenger, heath schuler of the blue dog democrats. why it matters next. ♪ [ growls ] ♪ ♪ [ polar bear grunting ] [ growls ] [ male announcer ] introducing the 100% electric nissan leaf. innovation for the planet. innovation for all.
mississippi. some people thought hands across america was not sexy enough. so some genius decided they had a better idea. bras across a bridge. it doesn't have the, for lack of a better term, size of hands across america. the bras were hung as part of the american cancer society's bras for brests cancer fund-raiser. bras across a bridge was not considered a bust. to the internet. with 49 days until christmas, oddball already found a candidate for this year's creepiest gift. meet video barbie. though she looks like a normal barbie in a sparkly jacket she is so much more. inside that hole in her chest, in her chest, yeah, is a camera. and on the back a fully functional lcd screen. the idea being you can shoot your own videos and play them all in one well-dressed barbie. you may be asking yourself, how do you keep the camera so steady? i didn't think they really
thought that one out. all right. staying on the internet with what appears to be a karate contest. trust me, i know karate. i was a yellow belt until i quit. it was the standard breaking thing with body parts display. some forgot the part about the breaking. notice the first man in the front? understand, breaking boards is not just easy. you might break your leg, though. but the man in the back really goes for it and boom, goes the dynamite over the side. we never did that in my karate class. i assume he was okay and no one seems overly concerned about the guy. i think he achieved a black and blue belt. i did it. i was in karate. heath shuler cites his quarterback experience in explaining why he is challenging house speaker nancy pelosi for the job of minority leader. eugene robinjoins us next. nationwide insurance, i'm all ears.
today she will run for the post of house moinority leader. not every democrat in the house wants her to be their leader and one says he'll run against her. heath shuler is leader of the conservative democratic blue dog caucus and former quarterback for the redskins. he explained his decision to challenge pelosi for the leadership position. telling the "washington post," quote, we weren't successful with me as quarterback so i lost my job. shuler did not mention while democrats were not successful tuesday his blue dog caucus was less successful. about half of them were voted out of office. the last guy to seek the house democratic leadership against pelosi was herald ford who lost by 177-29. pelosi has, by any measure, a stunning list of accomplishments under her belt from the last two years. measure after measure, propping up wall street, automakers and in turn the u.s. economy. tax cuts for the muddle class. investments for america's future in green energy and basic
infrastructure, health care reform, veteran's benefits, equal pay for women, new rules reining in wall street. reforming student loans for college kids. and in a statement today pelosi said, quote, we have no intention of allowing our great achievements to be rolled back. the national republican committee meanwhile put out a statement reading, "we welcome her decision to run for house minority leader based on her proven ability to create jobs for republican lawmakers." "countdown" points out republican lawmakers had jobs as bankers, hedge fund managers, et cetera. nevertheless without the speakership democrats have one fewer leadership position to fill and that's touched off another battle lower down the ranks. current minoriajority leader st hoyer announcing he'll seek the post of party whip, the party's vote counter, held by james clyburn the highest ranking african-american in the house. writing about ms. pelosi in his column today, eugene washington
of the "washington post" and msnbc political annalyst. good for you to join us. the thesis of your column was pelosi's downfall was a result of her success. how does her success become her achilles' heel? >> what i mean is she was a highly effective speaker. you ran down the list, thomas, of the legislation or much of the legislation she got through in her time as speaker. she was, you know, she pounded the gavel and she -- when she counted the votes they stayed counted. and republicans made her essentially public enemy number one and demonized her as, you know, ultra liberal and, you know, name your epithet. in any event she was actually cited more often by republican
candidates than was president obama in the recent midterm campaign. and it's precisely because she got a lot of stuff done. >> all right. does she look like damaged goods, though? now, why are some liberals suggesting she ought to step down? >> well, look, the democratic party, i think, is right. certainly reasonable for her to take a deep breath at this point. they got creamed on tuesday. no question about it. so they ought to stop, i think, and consider their options and there are liberals who say, look, whether it's fair or not, in fact nancy pelosi became a pol polarizing figure and if we're going to get back into the majority, say these democrats, perhaps she's not the person to lead us there. there are, loufr, a lot of other
democrats who believe otherwise. who believe for a variety of reasons nancy pelosi is the person who could best unify the democratic caucus and, perhaps, lead it back into majority status. >> well, to be speaker pelosi she's had to endure a great achievements to get through congress, to get to be speaker and she knows how to swim through some sharky waters. she spent the last few days gauging her support. who would be some of her biggest supporters and why? >> well, her biggest supporters are essentially the liberal wing of the democratic caucus. >> are we talking far left? >> house of representatives -- no, not far left. just not the conservatives. not the blue dogs basically. i mean, look, one thing nancy pelosi did in this past election cycle as she has done before is
raise a prodigious amount of money for democratic candidates across the spectrum. that's one thing that democrats argue they would be giving up potentially if they didn't have her as their leader. second, she's just well liked personally by the whole range of democrats and republicans, a lot of republicans like her personally as well on the hill. and third, she led the democrats to the majority in the house in 2006, to a larger majority in 2008 and there are democrats who remember that and say, you know, and they're grateful for her leadership and don't want to throw her over the side for having done essentially a good job pursuing the party's objectives and getting legislation through.
that said, i think her announcement today that she's running to be minority leader is -- i think she's certainly serious about it, but in tactical terms, she put down a marker. i think what she did was quell any sort of rebellion coming from the conservative side of the party that might have been brewing. and it gives her time to consider all the options. >> she's marking her turf to let everyone knows she's still in the game. is that to protect her achievements over the next two years? >> i think she certainly is going to try, and i think democrats are going to try. they have, of course have one big ally in this, president obama, who has the power of the veto. so, you know, to the extent that we're talking about total repeal of the health care act or really any of this landmark
legislation, that's an awfully steep hill for republicans to climb. i fully expect the new republican majority to spend a lot of time on these issues, however, because they want to beat the drum for 2012. >> you bring up president obama. do you think we're going to hear anything from the white house over this issue, this battle for leadership, and should we even hear anything from the white house? >> i do not think we're going to hear much more than what we heard today, and what we've heard, essentially, was the most kind of noncommittal statement basically saying that the president salutes the speaker's accomplishments and this and that. he's not going to take sides in this fight. and i think you'd have to assume if you were in the white house right now, whatever you thought about the political viability of speaker pelosi going forward,
you'd have to figure she's probably going to win if she stays in the race for minority leader she's probably going to win, so why would the white house want to jump in the middle of this fight? i do not expect the president to have much more to say about it at all. >> it's always hard when you jump in the middle of some type of power contest. trust me. eugene robinson of the "washington post." trouble reading the political tea leaves in alaska. the latest from the last undecided senate race. tea party nominee joe miller. this, take a look, no ordinary comet. it is ingactive and ready for i close-up. derek fitz on the stunner in space. when rachel joins you at the top of the hour, this was supposed to be the year of the woman. oh really, you say? why is it mostly men got elected? ♪
it won't be until next tuesday election workers will begin counting the absentee ballots. the day after that they're going to count the write in ballots. it's the senate race in alaska. republican and tea party candidate joe miller and the incumbent the write-in candidate republican lisa mur kokowski ha
assembled teams for the ballot count. even though the write in ballots have not been opened, mr. miller is talking about absentee ballots possibly making up the difference. our correspondent is nbc's kristin welker. >> this race is not done until the ballots are counted. >> reporter: tea party candidate joe miller has a message for write-in candidate lisa murkowski. >> her little victory speech that she gave several days ago may actually be premature. >> reporter: miller hired a legal team to do battle in the alaska recount where he trails by 13,000 votes. >> we're going to pull ahead, we're certainly going to pull ahead of where we are now when absentee ballots get counted. >> reporter: we spoke with the senate hopeful at a coffee shop
of wasilla, alaska, the howtown of sarah palin. >> they've been awakened by sarah palin and also by common sense. >> do you think she would be a good presidential candidate? >> i think she would be. there's no doubt. look who's in office right now. you do a comparison between the two, there's no comparison. you have one person who wants to grow government, another person who wants it to shrink it. >> reporter: miller is not sure if the movement has completely arooufed just yet. >> we'll have to wait and see. after these people take, hopefully me included depending on the outcome, the end result with be whether or not the gop decides to embrace the movement. >> reporter: right now he's focused on his own future as alaska waits to see which candidate actually did win this race. kristin welker, nbc news, wasilla, alaska. as we promised at the top of the show a quick word now about keith. last night msnbc management became aware of three political
contributions that keith made to three different candidates last week. the contributions are not permitted by nbc news without prior approval. in light of those facts, keith has been suspended indefinitely and we know all of you are looking forward to keith's return and so are we. the nasa spacecraft is called deep impact and the object it is watching, a peanut-shaped comet is called hartley ii. what's in it? what is it doing? is it that extraordinary? astronomer derrick pitts joins us next. when it comes to investing, no one person has all the answers.
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glimpses of a giant space peanut. a nasa fly-by of the come net known at hartley ii, a mountain sized ball of ice and dust. the spacecraft "deep impact" has been photographing the comet the last two months and got 432 miles away to get a peek at the comet's nucleus. sint ifs erupting in applause as the images reached earth. and here it is. look at that thing. take a close look. it's a big old space peanut or intergalactic bowling pin or some sort of chicken drumstick. i'm looking at the monitor when i should be reading the monitor. the spacecraft, despite the brief meeting the ship was able to capture 118,000 images. that's a big hard drive you've got there. hartley ii is the fifth comet to
be photographed. it orbits the sun every 6 1/2 years. joining me now is the chief astronomer for the franklin institute of philadelphia, derek p derrick pitts. until now scientists didn't know about hartley ii. >> we're going to learn about the bit about the composition about this comet which is important because we haven't learned as much as we can about the composition of comets. we'll learn about the structure of comments. this is a big area in which we're going to find new material from the photographs that come from this and learn about the mechanism of how the comet offgases its material and learn more about, you know, what the history of comets will be from this. so it's an important mission. >> all right. so cosmically speaking "deep impact" got really close for what we consider to be close. when was the last time we saw a
comet's nuke loucleunucleus? >> the most notable one was in 2005 when this spacecraft took an impacter and landed it on the surface of comet temple i and it blew out a huge crater and we could study the interior of the comet. that was a really great mission. there were two others before that that got us pictures that let us see what the nucleus of the comet looked like. >> we didn't know what the nucleus looks like. i get confused looking at these pictures and not reading the teleprompter. what do we make of this strange appearance of hartley ii? >> that's a great question, thomas. people typically think the nucleus of a comet is spherical in nature. what we're seeing here is it really can be a very odd shape. the comet nucleus of haley was potato shaped. this look s like a bowling pin r chicken drumstick.
there are smooth areas, there are rough areas, there are places that have active outgassing and other places where there's no outgassing at all. it's remarkable study of this particular shape. maybe we'll find out other comets have interesting shapes. >> as we learn more about these comets what do they in turn tell us about their solar system? >> comets are actually items left over from the very early history of the solar system. the beginning of the solar system. they live at incredible distances away from the sun so they maintain their frozen interior that sort of houses, like a deep freeze museum, what the composition and sort of environment of the solar system was like in its very early history. so we can use them to find out what the early history of the solar system was and we can also use them to figure out how the planets formed and others bodies in the solar system formed. >> the astron mists are learning
the gas inside is acting strangely. >> first of all, there have been enormous outgassings of cyanide gas. we can see jets of gas coming off of it. the interesting thing is we haven't seen dust jets with the cyanide gas jets. there's some question about the mechanism that drives the jets of gas. there seem to be huge chunks of carbon dioxide buried in it like chocolate chips in a cookie dough and maybe those hunks of carbon dioxide are warming up as it gets closer to the sun and creating the gas jet to push the gases off the surface. >> hartley ii is like a lot of us, has a different side on pictures. nasa faced budget cuts. does this prove the discovery such as this still being made in smaller low-cost projects, can we look at things like this and learn without having to spend a ton? >> well, actually you know, this is something that nasa does in a very large measure with almost
every mission. the idea of trying to find a way to be far more efficient with a spacecraft. even with the budget cuts, nasa has done very, very well, particularly in this instance. it's repurposing the spacecraft. it was doing something else before. they decided, hey, while it's out there let's have it do something else. they got two for the price of one. >> what is it about space that makes us want to revert to beingbeing little kids again? >> they're great mysteries, thomas. it's the big mysteries that look back at who we are and help us understand possibly what our place is in the universie. >> it's amazes ing to see this. >> it's a fantastic mission. the idea they could redirect this spacecraft to take a look at this comet after its previous work is really fantastic stuff. >> good way to leave things on a friday night. derrick pitts of the franklin institute.